Kiffin Should Complain About His Own Team

Tennessee head football coach Lane Kiffin is complaining about a penalty that was not called.

In Tennessee’s game against Alabama on Saturday, the Volunteers attempted a game-winning kick to knock off the second-ranked team in the country.  Vols kicker Daniel Lincoln had a low-trajectory kick that Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody blocked, his second blocked kick of the game.

Terrence Cody breaks through for a season-saving block!

Terrence Cody breaks through for a season-saving block! (Mark Almond, Birmingham News)

As the ball rolled around, Cody ran towards the Alabama sideline and removed his helmet.  Time expired and the Crimson Tide escaped with a 12-10 victory.

Kiffin argues, and rightfully so, that Cody should have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.  Kiffin told The Knoxville Sentinel:

“To me, the rule is this: If a play is still going on, you can’t take your helmet off.

“The play is still going. The ball is sitting there. If Luke (Stocker, UT tight end) sees the ball he can pick it up and go score a touchdown and we win the game. The guy (Cody) throws his helmet, then two of their guys go recover the ball.

“It’s a 15-yard penalty and we kick again.”

Well, SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom commented to The Birmingham News that there was no time left and thus there could not be another play.

But there is more to it than the time.

From the NCAA Football 2009-10 Rules and Regulation (Rule 10, Section 2, Article 2, subsection IV):

A Team A player clips in Team B’s end zone when a scrimmage kick has touched a Team B player in the field of play and the loose ball is still a kick. RULING: Penalty—15 yards. Enforcement is either at the previous spot (Team A retaining possession) or at the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B (emphasis added).

Now, the way the rule is written, it is using a clipping call by the kick-defending after the kick has been “touched” (blocked?).  But what I gather from this rule is that Team B recovers the ball.  Thus, the penalty is assessed on the offending team, but that team is now in possession of the ball.

Applied to the Alabama-Tennessee game, Alabama should have been penalized, but since they recovered the ball the lose 15 yards and first down Alabama.  Ball game!

Now, because I am not sure if that is the correct rule, here is another (Rule 10, Section 2, Article 3, subsection I):

Either team fouls during a scrimmage kick after the ball has been touched beyond the neutral zone. The foul is more than three yards beyond the neutral zone, and Team A is not in legal possession when the ball is declared dead. RULING: For fouls by Team B, penalty enforcement will be by the Three-and-One Principle with the postscrimmage kick spot as the basic spot (Rule 2-25-11). Team B’s ball, first and 10. For fouls by Team A, penalty enforcement is either from the previous spot or from the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B (Rule 6-3-13) (emphasis added).

So, again, kick is blocked and the kick-defense team recovers the ball (read: “Team A is not in legal possession when the ball is dead”).  But again, if Team B commits the penalty, they still maintain possession.  First and ten, Alabama.  Ball game!

Thus, either way, even if the penalty was called, Alabama recovered the blocked kick.  Because the penalty occurred while the ball was not in possession of either team, it came down to who got the ball.  In this case, Alabama jumped on the ball.

If Kiffin wants to complain, he should get on his own team and not the SEC officials.  Why did half of his special team unit run AWAY from the ball!?  It seemed they had no idea where the ball was after Cody swatted it away.

That is on his own team.  As Kiffin stated, “The play is still going. The ball is sitting there.”

So where the hell was your team running to, Lane?

Blame your team for not getting on the ball.

4 thoughts on “Kiffin Should Complain About His Own Team

  1. Well it does make you wonder if maybe Alabama got a little home cooking help. 1 penalty for a complete game means you are a verrrry good and well coached team or officials are looking at the other team for their penalty calls ( TN 8). We all know Alabama is not that good or they would have beat a bad TN team easily.

  2. You seem to discredit Tennessee rather quickly as being a “bad team.” Tennessee’s defense is tenth in the country in total yards allowed, and among the top quarter against the run. Tennessee shut down Florida, bottled up an Auburn offense that (at the time) was explosive, and contained Alabama’s running game. Give them some credit. “We all know”? I think you are not analyzing that game correctly.

    That stated, an 8-to-1 differential in penalties is big, but not unprecedented. Anyone who follows football knows that it is common for there to be a home-field advantage in penalties. And not just football…it is the same in basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer. Plus, ask UCLA about “home cooking.” in the UT-UCLA game, there was a 9-to-2 differential against the Bruins.

    it happens; it is not a conspiracy.

    • the problem with Tennessee was never the defense. the problem has been the offense (save the games against Western Kentucky and Georgia). the point still is that Tennessee did not even cover the ball. they were busy chasing Cody’s helmet!!!! UT had three field goal chances and blew it (one short; two blocked). and clock management was horrible.

      penalty discrepancy aside, Tennessee had their chances to overcome it and could not capitalize.

    • I agree with you here, but wonder why anyone cares about the penalty differential in the first place? Look at the nature of the penalties called, they are unambiguous in most cases (offside/false start are no brainers), if a team had a litany of holds and pass interference (judgment calls) then things would be different. Another point that had been made for years, but has seemed to disappear since CBS, ESPN and the AP began carrying the banner for the “victims” of ranked teams, top teams in conferences have always been far more penalized than other teams–and won in spite of it. Florida, Texas, Florida State (when they were in their hay-day) were always penalized nearly twice as much as their opponents and it never mattered, so why does it matter now? Football analcysts are a fickle crew. Also thanks for touching on the point of Kiffin’s coaching/clock management, there’s no reason Cocky Top shouldn’t have had 2 shots at the game winning field goal–well I guess there is a reason–Lane Kiffin.

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